This World as Philosophically Necessary – Patheos (blog)

Posted: August 10, 2017 at 5:55 am

In this post, I am going to consider the necessary property of God. God is often claimed to be philosophically necessary, with all other created things deemed to be contingent. I am going to challenge this prevailing idea.

First, let us consider what both terms (necessary and contingent) mean.

As mentioned, God is deemed to be necessary the fundamental foundation to reality. What might we understand by a logically necessary entity? As wiki explains:

The concept of a metaphysically necessary being plays an important role in certain arguments for the existence of God, especially theontological argument, but metaphysical necessity is also one of the central concepts in late 20th centuryanalytic philosophy. Metaphysical necessity has proved a controversial concept, and criticized byDavid Hume,Immanuel Kant,J. L. Mackie, andRichard Swinburne, among others.

Metaphysical necessity is contrasted with other types of necessity. For example, the philosophers of religionJohn Hick[2]andWilliam L. Rowe[3]distinguished the following three:

While many theologians (e.g.Anselm of Canterbury,Ren Descartes, andGottfried Leibniz) considered God as logically or metaphysically necessary being, Richard Swinburne argued for factual necessity, andAlvin Plantingaargues that God is a causally necessary being. Because a factually or causally necessary being does not exist by logical necessity, it does not exist in all logically possible worlds.[4]Therefore, Swinburne used the term ultimate brute fact for the existence of God.[5]

To me, there is a distinct potential, here, of confusingthe map with the terrain. We love to use logic and words as means to describe reality, but this does not mean they necessarily (no pun intended)arereality. After all, Christian philosophers have tried to use this technique to logic God into reality and existence, to much controversy.

Lets grant God as necessary, for the sake of argument. He is a necessary entity, existent in all possible worlds (itself a controversial idea).

Okay, so we have a necessary God with necessary properties. One must really assume that his properties are also necessary otherwise the term God as being necessary is really meaningless. We then get to some form of classical theism (the properties of which I roundly criticise in my ebookThe Problem with God: Classical Theism under the Spotlight) whereby God has the necessary ideals of perfect, or maximal, power, knowledge and love.

If God, then, as a necessary being, has necessary properties, and these properties necessarily cause a decision to create in a particular way the most perfect (since all of Gods decisions must be perfect) way then Gods decision to produce this world must also be necessary. It was the perfect choice (I cant, given the constraints on God in this way, see him being able to produce all or multiple versions of creation unless these be seen as perfect in some way) to create this world.

God, in his necessary perfection, chose to create this world. And remember, without time (before the creation of spacetime) any decision to create would not be temporal or deliberative (since deliberation takes time) and would thus be instantaneous (for want of a non-temporal term). Therefore, it really does look like creation springs necessarily from a necessary god.

Ergo, this universe is also necessary.

I cannot think of a way that the universe is contingent upon God since it would exist simultaneously with God. There would be no spacetime, so God would exist in not even a temporal sense, and the universe would coexist as a necessary extension of Gods properties.

This universeisevery possible world. Or, if there are multiple worlds within the perfect creation scenario, thentheyexist in every possible world.

In a sense, arguably, if you have a necessary God, you have some form of pantheism or panentheism where the created is merely a sort of necessary extension of God.

I will formalise this into a syllogism in my next post.

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This World as Philosophically Necessary - Patheos (blog)

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